We recently had the privilege of interviewing Jean-Charles Diener, Director and Owner at OFCO Group. With more than 23 years of expertise in the seafood industry in Vietnam, Jean-Charles Diener offers a unique take on inspection and consulting services in this field.
At OFCO Group, the inspections are carried out by teams of multinational and highly trained professional inspectors. Jean-Charles Diener ensures delivering incorruptible and top-notch standards of inspection in his company. In this insightful interview, Jean-Charles Diener shares about his early life, challenges faced after the pandemic, and building unique services, while offering valuable suggestions for professionals.
We started the interview by asking, “Can you please provide us with some information about yourself, including your early life and education?”
Jean-Charles shared, “With a Master’s Degree of Agronomy specialized in Aquaculture obtained at the CIRAD of Montpellier, I developed a farming of Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in Gabon, Africa inside the ‘Parc de la Lékédi’ with the SODEPAL. In the Philippines, I worked with the CIRAD on Black Tiger farming (Penaeus monodon) and studied the benefits of growing it together with Tilapia and Bangus or Milkfish. Since 2000, I have been established in Vietnam.
After some initial working phase for Proconco, a French-Vietnamese joint venture, and being a part of the first team developing feed formulation adapted for Pangasius farming on a large scale. Later, I worked 6 years as the sales manager in a Vietnamese company specializing in farming, processing, and exporting of Pangasius.”
He added, “Eventually, in 2007, I found OFCO Sourcing, which specialized in Sourcing and Inspection offering service as an agent and trader. But to preserve our integrity and despite the strong initial development, we intentionally took the risk in 2008 to stop our service as an agent and trader and concentrated on Inspection And Consulting services. We were convinced that “we cannot be judged and party at the same time”, and that “we cannot correctly judge the quality of the consignment if we are also responsible for buying this consignment”. To avoid any conflict-of-interest OFCO never negotiates prices with suppliers, and we do not buy or sell seafood.
And the risk we took paid off as OFCO Sourcing expanded to become 2011 OFCO Group, an independent third-party inspection company recognized internationally as one of the most reliable inspection companies in Vietnam.”
A Glimpse Of OFCO Group
We were intrigued to learn more about Jean-Charles Diener’s company and its presence in the industry. So, we asked, “Could you tell us about your company and its presence in the Singapore region?”
He responds, “I founded the company OFCO in Vietnam in 2007 and our company offers inspection and consulting services on seafood in Vietnam. Our major inspection services are Pre-Shipment Inspection, Loading Supervision, Loading Inspection, Samples Inspection, Processing Inspection and Factory Audits.
More than just providing inspection services, our objective is to support our regular customers on their seafood purchases from Vietnam. Our consulting services help to obtain the best possible deal and our inspection secures the purchase. With OFCO, our clients’ inspections are carried out by teams of multinational, highly trained, and professional inspectors following international standards, where a team of at least two people of different nationalities is dispatched for each assignment.”
“Moreover, OFCO’s market analysis, forecast, and advice will always keep our customers one step ahead and help them develop new and better strategies for their business. We do not buy or sell seafood and to avoid conflict of interest we do not negotiate prices with suppliers. Now, with OFCO by their side, seafood buyers will end up paying cheaper and receiving better quality products with fewer problems. We can help our clients to get the most out of their purchases from Vietnam. We ensure looking after their best interests and give them the best possible advice at all times.
Our prominent customers are from North America, South America and Europe. We are also the leading company to offer inspection services for seafood from Vietnam to India and currently, we are extending our services to Japan and Australia. Though we do not have any customers in Singapore at present, of course, we will be interested in developing our activity in the Singapore market. Our strategy is to work with only one company on each market to avoid conflict of interest.” He added.
Current Year For The Brand
The majority of the businesses are going through a tough phase post-Covid. To learn how Jean-Charles Diener handled the constraints and maintained his organization’s performance, we asked, “How has the year been for your company in terms of overall performance and achievements?”
Jean replied, “After Covid, we experienced a strong and sudden upturn in business, returning in a matter of weeks to almost 100% of previous levels. But after a certain slowdown in business for a while, we are gradually returning to decent volumes this year, enabling us to stabilize our market position as Vietnam’s leading seafood inspection company.
In conclusion, we’ve faced several challenges since 2020, and even though our business growth has slowed, we’ve maintained a decent volume and increased our market share.”
Setting OFCO Apart
To maintain a strong brand presence in the market, it is paramount to offer unique services and experiences to the clients. So, we asked, “In the current competitive market, what does your business offer that sets it apart from others?”
He shared, “I’ve been working in the seafood industry in Vietnam for 23 years, and more specifically in the field of inspection and consulting for 15 years. I have acquired a strong legitimacy and an impeccable reputation in this field. Our customers are often companies who have been buying seafood in Vietnam for over 10 or even 20 years, and who know the country very well. In my line of business, impeccable reputation and strong expertise are probably one of the most important keys to success.
“However, the competition is intensifying due to the recent development of a simplistic approach endorsed by major international inspection companies. These companies aim to meet consumer needs by providing results that are erroneous but easy to understand.
For instance, with these recent advancements, an increasing number of importers believe that simply measuring the moisture content is sufficient for quality control of pangasius fillets. However, this is a misconception. These objective values primarily serve to protect importers, and without substantial investment in understanding the relationship between the quality of pangasius fillets and their moisture content, this approach turns out to be counter-productive and detrimental to end consumers. Our strength lies in reliable, incorruptible inspections. While we use moisture content as a tool when necessary, we do not rely on it as the sole measure of quality.” He further stated.
Having strong cooperation and trust among the team is an essential factor ensuring the brand’s success. We asked, “What measures do you believe employees and organizations can take to build effective teamwork and foster unity within the workplace?”
Jean-Charles shared, “Effective teamwork and fostering unity within the workplace are essential especially in our field when the work can be hard. We need a strong team to succeed and be ready to support each other. And this is an essential point to me: “Alone we go fast, together we go far” is our company motto.
We always work in pairs, with at least one Vietnamese and one foreigner in each team. And useful information is systematically shared between all OFCO employees. OFCO has succeeded in developing a strong, united team. Many of our longest-serving members have been with us for over 10 years, helping out our younger members. Building my team day after day is the key to success.”
Words Of Wisdom For Beginners
We ended the interview by asking, “Do you have any advice or tips for startups looking to follow a similar pathway to your company’s success?”
Jean-Charles Diener shared, “Nothing but consistency, hard work, and honesty will be the biggest factors deciding your company’s success.”
Connect with Jean-Charles Diener on LinkedIn.